Wal-Mart, the Food Marketing Institute, the National Restaurant Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and many others stated that terminating the suspension agreement and potentially opening a new anti-dumping suit was bilateral trade suicide.
Yet here we are.
During the 16 years the suspension agreement has been in place, the Department of Commerce has never shown Mexico to have violated any provision of the agreement.
Now, the Commerce Department will be taking in more factual information and case briefs, and then will begin considering all the evidence 40 days after the notice was published in the Federal Register on Oct. 2.
There is an easy way to get past the rhetoric and politically motivated calls to circumvent the rules.
Mexican growers have presented a very strong suspension agreement enforcement package to the Department of Commerce.
The department should take the required time for the final determination in the changed circumstance review and instead use the time to negotiate with the growers.
Under normal procedures for considering a change in international pacts such as the tomato agreement, the Department of Commerce has 270 days to issue a decision.
The final decision on terminating the agreement must not be rushed, such as the preliminary decision was in a few short weeks, allowing Florida lawmakers and the Obama administration to make political hay before election day.
Terminating the agreement would be disastrous. Doing so would mean U.S. retailers, foodservice buyers and consumers would pay more for decreased variety and volume of tomatoes.
For the health of the tomato category, this would be the worst possible outcome.
Lance Jungmeyer is president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, Nogales, Ariz.
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